I'm trying to debug the fact that my .xinitrc file is not being run, but whenever I need to debug anything having to do with X11 startup I feel it's like "going down the rabbit hole": what's the window manager, what's the session manager, what's the desktop manager, what's the yadda-yadda-yadda... There seem to be so many variables and so many possible execution paths I quickly get totally lost.

Therefore, I'm hoping to find a way (as generic as possible) to trace what's getting run once I type in my password into a graphical login screen. By "generic" I mean that it is independent of the window manager, desktop manager, etc., etc., that I'm using.

  • Are you logging in in graphical mode (with a display manager) (in which case that's why .xinitrc isn't being run!), or are you logging in in text mode and running startx or xinit? Do you have root access? Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 23:36
  • try putting your cmds in ~/.xsession or failing that ~/.xprofile and look in /etc/*/Xsession for what might be the shell script start of the process.
    – meuh
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 17:21
  • @Gilles: I'm logging in in graphical mode. The aim of the question was to find some way to get my bearings through the maze of X11-related options. There are too many variables in play, too many possible different configurations to consider. Your observation explains what I'm getting, but somehow I feel as lost as I was before I read your comment. I'm looking for some tools to navigate through this mess with.
    – kjo
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


It depends on your Login Manager whatever .xinitrc or some other *.desktop configuration gets read to execute the session.

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